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New Hanover Co. Commission candidates face off at Senior Center

READ MORE: New Hanover Co. Commission candidates face off at Senior Center
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Election Day is just four weeks from today, and time is winding down for candidates to make their case.

Five of the six hopefuls for New Hanover County Commission faced off again this morning in a forum hosted by WWAY and the Volunteer Older Citizens Action League at the New Hanover County Senior Resource Center.

The candidates discussed several issues ranging from city-county consolidation to the traffic dilemma during the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge closure last month.

"It took me an hour to go 15 minutes," Democrat Jonathan Barfield said about having to find an alternate route using back roads to get home from Leland, "and that's just unacceptable."

"I do not think there was leadership stepping up or communication this past weekend with the bridge closure," Republican Beth Dawson said.

Issues also included handling the county's trash needs.

"It's our trash," Democrat Robert Murray said. "We need to take care of it."

They also discussed working to make New Hanover County better for small businesses.

"We need to ask all the businesses that are currently here in New Hanover County that invested millions in infrastructure what can we do to help them grow their businesses," Republican Derrick Hickey said.

Members of the audience wanted to know about the candidates' view of Wilmington's ballpark plan. That led to a question about how each would prioritize spending $37 million if voters gave them that issue, as Wilmington is voters to spend on a ballpark.

"If I had the opportunity to have $37 million, the first thing I would do is I would sit down and I would listen," Democrat Robert Zapple said.

But one voter thought what was interesting about the candidates' answers is what was not among their spending priorities.

"It was a very interesting answer from all the candidates on that. They mentioned the $37 million is coming from the stadium issue. Not one of the candidates mentioned spending the $37 million on a new stadium," Dick Hayes said.

Other voters we talked with said the forum satisfied their need to learn more about the candidates before they head to the poll.

Republican Woody White, an attorney, could not attend because of his court schedule.

A reminder, Friday is the last day to register to vote on Election Day. Early voting starts October 18.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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Baseball Facts

Port City Baseball’s fast Facts/ Illusions;

Major Economic Benefits and Job Creation:

1-Economic Impact – The city’s independent consultant projected the multi-use facility will generate an economic impact of $242 million in Wilmington.

Answer: They fail to state if this amount is each year or over the 20 year period that the tax payers will be on the “hook” for the loan payments. Ask these people to break this down and show where/how this money will be spent. The money spent in the stadium is money that would be spent in the city and county anyway. This is not “new revenue,” it redistribution of money that would be spent at other locations, thus hurting existing businesses, not helping them. The use of tax payer money to subsidize this stadium is unfair to the businesses that did not receive millions and millions of dollars in subsidies. It gives the stadium an unfair advantage and is why the government needs to stay out of private enterprise.

2-Wages for Wilmington – Over the term of the bond the multi-use facility’s operations will support $74 million in wages to Wilmington residents

Answer: The agreement states 25 full time jobs @ approx. $32,000.00 per year. 25 x 32 = $640,000.00 per year. Multiply this by 20 years and the full time employees receive $12,800,000.00 over 20 years. This leaves $61,200,000.00 according to their figures to pay the popcorn and peanut salesmen over 20 years. Does anyone really believe this? Once again ask them to break down their ridiculous claim……

3-Hotels, Restaurants, & Retail – The facility will bring additional visitors to our city and draw consumers to Wilmington establishments. Visiting teams and officials will generate an estimated 1,750 hotel room stays each year, with visiting fans booking even more.

Answer: The greatest majority of fans attending minor league single A baseball games live within 30 miles of the stadium. They eat and drink in the stadium and go home when the game is over. There is no economic benefit to other businesses and since Mandalay keeps all the money generated inside the stadium, the tax payers and businesses get nothing for their 58 million dollar investment.

4-A Multi-Use Facility – The city has estimated the facility could host at least 150 events per year, such as private functions, corporate events, community gatherings, or charity events.

Answer: The contract calls for up to/maybe 10 non baseball events per year by the city, and the city has to pay Mandalay to oversee these events. 70 baseball games and “maybe” 10 other events put on by the city does not equal 150 yearly events. Once again another blanket statement issued without any proof or list of events. They offer no breakdown of each event showing they will be profitable either.

5-A Public / Private Project:

Answer: Where is the private investment? The Wilmington tax payers spend 58 million dollars (and counting), and Mandalay, The Braves, and their billionaire owner get ALL the PROFITS! What a deal for Mandalay.

6-The True Cost for Taxpayers – The bond referendum will be financed with a 2.5-cent property tax rate increase. For the average Wilmington homeowner, this is about four dollars per month.

Answer: This cost per tax payer depends on the tax value of your property. If property values increase, the cost increases. Multiply 2.5 per 100 dollar tax value to figure what your tax increase will be. Everyone needs to ask themselves if they feel the need to vote themselves a tax increase to subsidize a man whose wealth is 5.4 BILLION DOLLARS. His net worth has increased 300 million dollars in the last 6 months. These people, the members of the Billionaires Beggar Club, need to pay for their own projects. Has anyone that he is asking to pay for this stadium seen any increase in their personal wealth? That the city government would even ask the tax payers to fund this is ridiculous……

7-Major Private Investment – The Atlanta Braves and Mandalay Baseball will invest significantly in the project. In addition to paying the highest rent in the Carolina League, the owners will make a multi-million dollar investment to purchase and relocate a team, pay operations costs, and pay all players’ salaries.

Answer: They get a 58 million dollar stadium handed to them, and they agree to pay “their players” and the light bill. The highest rent is an illusion. Subtract the office space rent from this amount and the fees Mandalay gets to oversee the city’s events, and then you will know the true amount they will pay in rent. I would also like to know if they get to keep all the ticket revenue, concessions, and all in stadium advertising at these other locations. Mandalay also gets the first $350,000.00 of naming rights for the stadium and 50% over the first $350,000.00. This highest rent claim is not accurate when everything in the contract is considered.

8-A Long-Term Commitment to the Community – The Atlanta Braves have legally committed to field a team in Wilmington for at least 20 years.
Answer: Read the contract, this is a lie. Mandalay can leave whenever they want. The Braves are only obligated for 18 months if Mandalay leaves. There is the very real possibility that Wilmington could be stuck with an empty stadium with a big mortgage. Check with Kinston and see how many events they hold in their deserted stadium and how profitable these events are. Also ask Kinston why their team left.
The Right Partners:

9-Sellout Crowds – Mandalay Baseball, the owner/operator for the proposed project, is one of the country’s most successful Minor League operators. Their team in Dayton, Ohio has set the professional sports record by selling out every single home game ever held, a consecutive 913 games and counting!

Answer: Wilmington is not Dayton. Dayton has over 1 million people within a 30 mile radius of their city. Wilmington has a little over 130 thousand. Wilmington has many other things to do. This is not an accurate example and the pro side knows it. Myrtle Beach does not sell out their stadium very often, why don’t they use this as an example?

10-Our Hometown Team – The Atlanta Braves are the longest continually-operating franchise in professional sports since their debut in the National League in 1876, winning 16 divisional titles, 17 National league pennants, and three World Series Championships. They are the only MLB franchise to have won the World Series in three different home cities. Wilmington is in Braves Country.

Answer: They are not bringing the Atlanta Braves to Wilmington. They want to bring the Lynchburg Hillcats. Single A baseball does not compare to Major League Baseball. This is just more fluff without substance.

The Right Location

11-Cape Fear Riverfront – The city has identified the northern Downtown riverfront as the location of the proposed ballpark. It will serve as a lynchpin in an area that many see as essential to the continuing growth of Wilmington.

Answer: What other businesses can afford to buy the polluted property on the river? Is Wilmington planning on buying the property, cleaning up the property, building their buildings for them, and then renting these buildings to them for a fraction of the loan costs while allowing them to keep all profits? If this is the long term plan, bankruptcy will be in Wilmington’s future.
Wilmington is currently paying its employees an average of 10% less than other local cities. This is causing high turnover rates and excessive training costs. The roads and sewers are in disrepair. Traffic is a huge problem without adding a stadium downtown. This is a recipe for disaster for the tax payers. People will not sit in traffic jams 70 times a year to watch minor league baseball. Other people will avoid the area on game days to avoid the traffic jams. This does not help the businesses around the stadium, it hurts them.

Rick

Thanks a lot

Now the rest of us don't have anything else to say because you said it all.

Does THAT post put you on Terry Spencers S-List

Thats Special list...........

Vog

There you have it

What a devastating blow to the pro stadium side.

Given $37M what would your spending priorities be?

Not one person said baseball stadium.
How telling this is.
Given "free" money and no strings - and not one person said baseball.
Looks like the Civitas poll was right

Vog

Wow. How about some trite

Wow. How about some trite answers? Thank goodness Woody White had the sense to skip this nonsense.

Is Beth Dawson Qualified???

Ok, I've listend to Beth Dawson 2 or 3 times, and I just don't think this woman is smart. She rambles incoherently until her time to answer is up. She doesn't make any sense and her answers don't ever respond to the question.

You know, if she was this incoherent in a traffic stop, she's "red glassy eyes" and "strong odor of alcohol" away from a DWI.